Aggressive acquisition of coal mines abroad needed: Minister

Last Updated: Wed, Jan 16, 2013 11:50 hrs

New Delhi, Jan 16 (IANS) Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal said Wednesday India needs to be aggressive in acquiring coal mines overseas to meet its growing energy requirements.

"We need to be aggressive in this regard (acquiring coal mines abroad) for long-term energy security point of view," Jaiswal said at the India Electricity - 2013 conference here.

The country's growing economy needs enough power and domestic coal production has not been unable to keep pace with increasing demand. That's why, the minister said, state miner Coal India Ltd (CIL) helped by the ministry had acquired coal mines in Mozambique.

In August, 2009. Coal India Africana Limitada (CIAL), a wholly-owned subsidiary of CIL, won a five-year license for exploration and development of mines in Mozambique. The two coal blocks at Motaize, in Tete province of Mozambique, are spread over 200 sq km and their exploration may take over two years. The production from the twin mines is scheduled from 2015.

Private firms like the Tata and Adani Groups have also been acquiring mines in countries such as Indonesia, Australia, and South Africa.

The demand-supply gap of coal was 161.5 million tonnes (MT) in the last fiscal and is likely to touch 185 MT over the next five years.

Emphasing that the price of coal in India is far below the international prices and needs to be rationalized for avoiding wastage and inefficient use, Jaiswal said: "A proposal to import coal with pooling of prices is suggested to bind over the current shortage situation.

"However, this needs to be studied in depth for a considered view as a number of state governments have expressed reservation on the proposal."

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